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The WikiLeaks Files

The World According to US Empire

By Julian Assange (introduction)
10-minute read
Audio available
The WikiLeaks Files: The World According to US Empire by Julian Assange (introduction)

The WikiLeaks Files (2015) provides fascinating and digestible insights from WikiLeaks, the organization that came to worldwide prominence with the release of 251,287 US State Department cables in 2010. These blinks paint a bleak picture of an American empire and its machinations.

  • Global citizens concerned with world affairs
  • Students of political science or international relations
  • Diplomats and others working in civil service

The contributors to this collection of essays include scholars, journalists and activists. The introduction was written by Julian Assange, the editor-in-chief and founder of the whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks.

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The WikiLeaks Files

The World According to US Empire

By Julian Assange (introduction)
  • Read in 10 minutes
  • Audio & text available
  • Contains 6 key ideas
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The WikiLeaks Files: The World According to US Empire by Julian Assange (introduction)
Synopsis

The WikiLeaks Files (2015) provides fascinating and digestible insights from WikiLeaks, the organization that came to worldwide prominence with the release of 251,287 US State Department cables in 2010. These blinks paint a bleak picture of an American empire and its machinations.

Key idea 1 of 6

The US government has attempted to contain and vilify WikiLeaks.

If you’ve heard of WikiLeaks and its founder Julian Assange, you likely also know that it’s a very controversial organization. But what exactly is WikiLeaks and why is it so divisive? Let’s delve in.

The story begins in 2006, when a network of hackers, programmers, activists and journalists, led by Australian hacker Julian Assange, established the WikiLeaks website. It was designed to be a platform for whistleblowers, which would allow them to upload documents anonymously. Squarely in WikiLeaks’ sights were shady, corrupt or illegal practices by governments, institutions and corporations.

Since then, its global profile has grown immensely. The website has disclosed some momentous revelations, with some of the most famous including information about mass electronic snooping carried out by the US National Security Agency (NSA).

WikiLeaks has, as of 2016, published 2,325,961 US State Department records – that’s about 2 billion words in total, which, if printed, would fill around 30,000 volumes. The records also showed that the State Department, the heart of American diplomacy, was placing a positive and optimistic sheen on policies that were causing devastation in other parts of the world.

What’s more, they had also budgeted more than $1 billion each year for “public diplomacy;” in other words, they were investing in propaganda.

For its part, the US government has actively worked against WikiLeaks. Both the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations have condemned WikiLeaks, with former Vice President Joe Biden going as far as proclaiming Assange to be a “cyber-terrorist.” Since it first came to prominence, US governments have sought to suppress WikiLeaks and stop the public and researchers from using it.

For instance, the Library of Congress blocks access to the website, while the National Archives blocks searches for the term “Wikileaks” in its databases. In 2012, the Pentagon blocked e-mails containing the word “WikiLeaks” on its servers through an automated filter.

The International Studies Association (ISA) even forbade its members from using WikiLeaks material. With 6,500 members worldwide, including many professors in political science departments at major universities in the United States and abroad, that’s a pretty serious clampdown – and it’s all because WikiLeaks’ revelations about US policies are so damaging and revealing.

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